January 22, 2007

Rendez Vous '87 - Personal Impressions of CCCP

I don't think the Russians have ever considered this series to be among their most cherished. They didn't play that well, although seemed to get better as the tournament went on.

The KLM line was a shadow of their usual self. Makarov had some nice zip, but did not create much offensively. Krutov was unnoticeable except when he and Makarov were killing penalties expertly. Larionov was the most impressive of the three. When the big line was clicking, Larionov was never the most noticeable of the three. Lucky for the NHL that the line wasn't hitting on full cylinders.

The KLM line also includes defensemen Fetisov and Kasatonov. Both had very strong tournaments, especially Fetisov. Could Fetisov had been the best defenseman in the world in the 1980s? Its a shame that we never saw him compete in the NHL during his prime, but I suspect he might have been as good as anyone in the NHL.

The Soviets didn't really need the offense from the KLM thanks to spectacular play of Valeri Kamensky. Linemates Bykov and Khomutov have always impressed me with their speed and togetherness, but big Kamensky was something else in this tournament. Dare I say he was better than anyone, including Wayne Gretzky? That might be a slight stretch, but certainly the two of them were above everyone else.

Funny thing - For his efforts Kamensky was named Soviet MVP and got a home stereo. Gretzky, the NHL MVP, got a brand new car. I wonder what Kamensky was thinking when he compared the two prizes.

Here is some commentary on the individual Soviet players... Full Story

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